That Bulldogs clash. Who’da thunk it?
Those of us in the stands who’ve witnessed many fierce Eels v Bulldogs clashes could probably see and predict at half-time what was going to happen. So, if we want to, this game can be a wonderful moment to learn and we can become a better team from playing in it.
While it is right to point out errors in our game, it is also to important to remember two simple facts.
If we want to improve as a team these boys have to be given the opportunity to play footy together and that means they will make mistakes and some will be costly. As a supporter base we can not ask for young kids to be given a go and then get upset when they make rookie errors. I know Moses is no rookie but one poor game after three months of solid football is forgivable.
Second, and this is important, we called throughout last year, and even after some games this year, for our team to play with passion and energy, to let us know they care.
Well they certainly did that against the Bulldogs. It was ill-directed but it was there in spades.
What went wrong? Or to repeat the question from a wise person, “Why, why?”
They played into the Bulldogs hands, they took the game down into the gutter, just where the Dogs needed it to go. We willingly played the Dogs their way and paid the price. To become a better team who can win games in the finals we must be able to harness our passion and play to our strengths, not to our oppostion’s.
There has been much discussion about Nathan Brown and his ill discipline during the game. We all saw the shoulder charge that connected and the others that missed.
My reaction at the game was surprise as he simply seemed to be on a mindless mission to get sent off and no one either could, or tried, to calm him down.
My reaction driving home was disappointment as I feared a big suspension and I know how important Brown is to our team and how much he loves playing footy.
But with time my reaction has changed to support.
To be clear my views are very precise on his tackle, it was not a tough shot, it was a dangerous cheap shot and if that had been done to one of our play makers I would be filthy.
But Nathan Brown will play in our finals match because he has been able to play tough, aggressive, team inspiring footy at Parra since his arrival and despite his aggressive play, he has had no previous charges and thus no loading. He has been able to consistently inspire his team and fan base with aggressive, tough footy for 50 games at Parra without stepping over that fine line between aggression and illegal shots.
Last Thursday was the one game he has stepped over, or rather sprinted over, the line but as a fan it does not make me forget all the other wonderful team performances he has put in.
From the stands Nathan Brown does not need to make amends for last Thursday, he just needs to make sure it does not happen again. He is our forward leader and if he wants to be a good one he must be able to control himself. He is skilful and tough and does not need that rubbish in his game.
My son Jack has two favourite players, one is Nathan Brown. On Friday morning my tired son asked me why Brown was so angry. I guess he is the only one that can answer that and he must do so. He must ensure that rubbish is removed from his game as I know I won’t accept it, and I doubt our fan base and NRL will be so lenient if he repeats those antics again.
And after this past week, I reckon we’re all pretty clear about Nonna’s opinion.